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International refugee protections threatened by tighter restrictions: UN

[JURIST] The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] said Wednesday that there has been a sharp decline in the number of asylum seekers globally and warned that asylum seekers worldwide face increasing threats as they are "portrayed not as refugees fleeing persecution and entitled to sanctuary, but rather as illegal migrants, potential terrorists and criminals." In the 2006 State of the World's Refugees report [text; press release] released Wednesday, the UNHCR points to the Sept. 11 terror attacks [JURIST news archive] as a turning point when states began to increasingly cite security concerns as a reason for tighter restrictions that inhibit the movement of refugees and other asylum seekers.

The report said that the return of millions of people to nations such as Afghanistan, Angola and Sierra Leone was a major factor in the global decline in the number of refugees and asylum seekers in recent years but added that millions of displaced people have few viable options, citing 33 groups of at least 25,000 refugees that have been in exile for more than five years. Reuters has more.

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